It's true. A twelve year study has shown that coffee consumption seems to affect a man's likelihood of having gout. The study linked coffee intake to a reduced risk of gout in men with no previous history of gout.
Dr. Hyon K. Choi, MD, DrPH, and colleagues performed a twelve year study on 45,869 men, ages 40 to 75 with no prior history of gout. The study was conducted at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver and was published in 2007.
Coffee Lowers Blood Uric Acid Levels?
The results of the study showed a direct link between increased coffee consumption and lower uric acid levels. The study determined there is no link between total caffeine consumption and uric acid levels, as it also looked for any possible effects of soda, tea, decaffeinated tea and decaffeinated coffee. Also taken into account were typical gout risk factors such as hypertension, alcohol consumption, intake of red meat and high fat dairy, and body mass index.
The study has shown a direct link between an increase of coffee consumption and a decrease of uric acid levels. Decaffeinated coffee was shown to have the opposite effect: more cups of decaf coffee resulted in a drop of uric acid levels, but inversely. The study showed that men who drank 1 to 3 cups of regular coffee a day had a decrease of 8% in their uric acid levels.
When coffee intake rose to 4 to 5 cups, uric acid levels dropped by a dramatic 40%. 6 or more cups of coffee resulted in a 59% decrease of uric acid levels. In contrast, decaf coffee consumption of 1 to 3 cups showed a decrease of uric acid levels of 33%.
When decaf coffee intake rose to 4 or more cups, uric acid levels dropped only 27%, demonstrating an inverse relationship between decaffeinated coffee and uric acid levels.
Scientists aren't sure exactly what it is about coffee that seems to lower uric acid levels. There is a strong antioxidant in coffee called phenol chlorogenic acid, which may have something to do with it. While scientists aren't recommending an increase in coffee consumption to alleviate or prevent gout, they do acknowledge the link and see the need for future research. Studies will need to be done to isolate the component in coffee that seems to lower uric acid levels, and to determine if there's an effect in women as well as men.